Recent Changes Affecting the Prepaid Card Users

Recent Changes Affecting the Prepaid Card Users

Many consumers in today’s world are increasingly adopting the use of prepaid cards. The most popular prepaid cards are open loop cards. An open loop c

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Many consumers in today’s world are increasingly adopting the use of prepaid cards. The most popular prepaid cards are open loop cards. An open loop card is a debit card, credit card or gift card that can be used by a consumer to make purchases anywhere that the card is accepted. MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Discover are such cards.

These accounts indeed are similar to bank accounts but they have previously had fewer regulations. The consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) had been working on rules and regulations to govern the prepaid cards and this task was recently finalized. These new rules will give the prepaid card holder the same benefits and protection that a bank offers. The CFPB also announced that the rules would also affect digital prepaid cards such as PayPal and Venmo.

Here are the major changes

  • Uncomplicated Fees

The companies that offer the prepaid cards are required to issue their customers with a precise, easy to understand form that fully informs them about all the fees associated with their account. These fees include withdrawal fees, periodic fees and reload fees. Previously, most consumers reported that the prepaid card companies used to secretly deduct fees from their accounts. This rule is not intended to stop the usual fees from being deducted but the card issuers are mandated to account for every cent charged in writing.

  • Fraud Protection

This rule is intended to protect the user if their card is lost or stolen. The CFPB requires the prepaid card company to reimburse the user for purchases or withdrawals made that are above 50 USD. This is similar to fraud protections that banks offer. Formerly, the prepaid card companies were not required to protect their customers from fraud at all. Customers whose cards were stolen and a considerable amount used could only contact the authorities with no hope of a refund. The Issuers are also required to refund all fraudulent transactions in time.

  • Information Access and Quick Resolutions

The prepaid card companies are required to eliminate any barrier to user account information. The companies are instructed not to charge for balance enquiry whether by phone, writing or online. Most prepaid card companies used to hold to this rule but there were some that charged the customer when they viewed basic information associated with their account. Unlike banks, the prepaid card companies do not have to provide a monthly mailed statement to users. However, this rule will further increase information symmetry. Additionally, the companies will also be required to help customers resolve errors conveniently and also respond to any complaint.

  • Credit Protections

Prepaid card companies are allowed to issue credit to their customers. This new change was debated since the point of one having a prepaid card is to spend only what is in the account. The prepaid card issuers are allowed to offer credit to customers without the protections that banks or credit card companies are forced to give. It was suggested to the bureau to ban prepaid issuers from giving credit but the CFPB decided to allow them as long as the issuers agreed to some requirements. The issuers are required to give credit only if the customers are credit worthy and give them a reasonable time to pay back the debt.